Anibal Sanchez loses no-hit bid but wins Game 1

Brian Tinsman
October 12, 2019 - 12:13 am
Anibal Sanchez loses no-hit bid but wins Game 1

(Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

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Anibal Sanchez was just four outs away from a legendary postseason feat.

Through 7.2 innings, he was on pace to throw the third no-hitter in MLB playoff history, joining Phillies ace Roy Halladay in the 2010 NLDS vs. the Cincinnati Reds, and Don Larsen’s perfect game for the Yankees in Game 5 of the 1956 World Series vs. the Brooklyn Dodgers.

He admitted after the game that he didn’t notice until the sixth inning when he saw zeroes on the scoreboard as he took the mound. Sanchez has been here before, including when he:

  • Completed a no-hitter of the Diamondbacks in 2006;
  • Lost a no-hitter in the ninth inning vs. the Twins in 2013;
  • Was pulled out of a no-hitter in the ALCS vs. the Red Sox in 2013.

His singular focus this time around was executing his pitches.

He failed to execute vs. Tommy Edman in the eighth inning, who hit a rocket shot between first base and second base that was destined for right field until Ryan Zimmerman laid out for a highlight-reel catch.

No-hitters are a full-team effort.

Ironically, two batters later, Sanchez induced weak contact from Jose Martinez, who hit a bloop single to centerfield, ending the no-hit bid and Sanchez’s night. 

As Sanchez left the field, he was greeted by a standing ovation from the St. Louis crowd, especially as he tipped his hat to Martinez, and then thanked home plate umpire Mike Muchlinski. It gets no classier than that.

“I wasn’t thinking about the no-hitter,” Sanchez told the TBS reporter after the game. “I was thinking about keeping the score right there. I just wanted to get a win for the team and get ahead in the series.”

Historically, about two-thirds of teams that win Game 1 of the League Championship Series advance to the World Series. Especially since this series starts on the road, a Nats’ Game 1 win puts them in the driver’s seat.

The Nats rode the big three aces of Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg and Patrick Corbin hard in the NLDS, leaving them unavailable in relief. Manager Dave Martinez doesn’t have many trusted arms in the bullpen, and closer Daniel Hudson is away from the team on paternity leave.

If Sanchez faltered, so would the Nats. He delivered in a big way, becoming the first pitcher in postseason history with multiple outings of six-plus innings and one or fewer hits allowed.

Not bad for this team’s fourth starter. 

Brian Tinsman has covered D.C. sports since 2011, both from the team marketing and skeptical fan perspectives. Tweet your criticisms @Brian_Tinsman.

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